Soccer fan or not, this should be interesting information. Particularly because it was soccer haters that got me started on this journey to analyze the amount of scoring in the Premier League. I am sure if you are a soccer fan living in America like I am, you have certainly heard the statement: “Soccer is boring, no one ever scores.” I heard it so much that I decided to finally see for myself if that was a valid claim. While looking into that, I found something very interesting that could be of significance to determining success, at least in the Barclay’s Premier League.
I’ll start with the simple “no one ever scores” argument. Throughout the entirety of the 2015-16 Premier League season I kept track of each Premier League game, how many goals each team scored/allowed, who they played, win/loss/draw, etc. I used Alteryx to manipulate the data I had kept to make it Tableau ready. I then used Tableau to create the following graphics. I started with the simple one of the number of goals scored per week:
The average goals per week, represented by the yellow line, was 27, which is a 2.7 goals per game average. If you notice, there were 20 out of 38 weeks that had at or above the average (which makes sense since it is an average). Of those 20, 12 were in the second half of the season. Maybe this shows that more goals are likely to be scored in the latter half of the season because teams are fighting to stay out of the bottom three or remain in the top four/five. It will be interesting to see if this is the case for the 2016-17 season.
Building off of goals per week, I wanted to go one step deeper and figure out how many goals were scored per game. The average is easy to figure out since it’s simply the 27 weekly average divided by the 10 goals per week, but I made a distribution of the goals per game to better show how many goals are being scored in a game.
If you notice, it is actually more likely that you would see a game with 5 goals or more (12.89%) than a game with zero goals (8.42%). Now in order to argue either way on whether goals are actually scored or not in soccer depends on the definition of sufficient scoring. Personally I feel the 2.7 average is higher than what I would have thought it was, especially if people were to be right in saying goals aren’t scored. Even more telling is that nearly 53% of games had at least 3 goals and about 31% of games had 4 goals or more, which is about 3 out of the 10 games in a week.
Now this next part was me just continuing to have fun playing around with the statistics, but it led to a certainly interesting discovery that I will be sure to look into this next season to check the consistency. I broke down the scoring to the average scoring by team at home and on the road. You can check this out in the graphic below:
I did the home goals first and clearly the first thing that jumped out at me was how much Southampton and Manchester City scored at home and how little Aston Villa scored (but let’s be honest, no one needs this data analysis to show how little Villa scored). What I found to be shocking was when I continued on with the away goals. With the coloring of the bars by the final standings, it jumped out at me that the top three finishers were the top three teams in scoring on the road and the last three in road scoring (again, not shocked to see Villa here) were the teams that finished last and were relegated.
Taking it one step further, I switched to Tableau 10 (previous graphics done with Tableau 9.2.6) to use the new clustering tool to determine if there was a significant difference in the away scoring.
These clusters were the default clusters Tableau provided based on average away goals and points in the standings. This showed the statistically significant differences in away goals and final standing. As you can see the “Top of the Table” cluster was an exact match (team match, not order) with the top three finishers of the Premier League and the “Bottom of the Table” cluster with the exception of West Brom, had the three teams that were relegate. (Note: Tableau did not name these clusters, I custom named them to give clarity. Tableau just automatically colored them by cluster).
These results showed that away goals are an important part of success, again I note this was for the 2015-16 Premier League season. I am interested to see if that is the case again this coming Premier League season (can’t wait for it to start up this Saturday!). I am also interested in whether or not this is already known since the Champions League tie breaker is away goals.
If you enjoyed this article or simply love the Premier League, I am planning to create an interactive dashboard to display the performance of each team this past season so keep a look out for that.
Special thanks to @3danim8 for help on the Tableau clustering and visible graphics.